Doctors who prescribe opioid painkillers have faced increasing scrutiny in recent years as opioid addiction becomes a more pressing public health crisis.
And for the first time, a new study out today by a group of physicians points to an apparent connection between opioids and the rise in opioid-related deaths and addiction.
“The link between opioids, opioid addiction, and the opioid epidemic is now very clear,” said Dr. Elise Smith, director of the Center for Health Policy at the University of California, San Francisco.
“We need to get to the bottom of what’s happening.”
According to a new report from the National Center for Policy Analysis, which tracks the opioid crisis, the number of people in the U.S. addicted to opioids jumped from about 18 million in 2015 to almost 50 million in 2017.
“This has been a long-running trend, and it’s only just been accelerating,” Smith said.
“What we know is that the number one factor for people who are hooked on opioids is opioid use.”
The study examined data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which was conducted between 2013 and 2017.
It looked at data from both the National Survey of Drug Use, which is a nationally representative survey of Americans, and a separate study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, a part of the National Science Foundation.
The survey asked people to answer questions about whether they used prescription opioids, heroin, cocaine, or methadone during the previous 30 days.
It also asked about their use of illicit drugs, and alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco.
The results were startling.
The number of opioid-dependent Americans increased by roughly 2.4 million in the first year of the study, but the number who reported using prescription opioids dropped by about 9 million.
The researchers found that the overall number of Americans who reported being addicted to prescription opioids jumped by about 1.6 million over the past year.
And the number reporting heroin use in the previous year increased by about 3.8 million.
Smith said the study found a correlation between prescription opioids and addiction, but not a causal one.
The opioid addiction trend is real, but it doesn’t cause people to become addicted to drugs,” she said.
Smith called it a “very compelling” finding.”
We know that people who have opioid addiction tend to be older, and those older people are also more likely to be in the workforce and less likely to have high-quality health insurance,” she explained.
Smith, along with her colleagues at the Center on Substance Abuse at UCSF, published their findings today in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.”
There’s no reason for this, except maybe for the fact that we’re seeing this increase in the opioid problem,” she told Live Science.”
The researchers looked at opioid-specific mortality rates and the incidence of opioid use, as well as deaths associated with other substances. “
This is just another way that we can reduce the burden of disease.”
The researchers looked at opioid-specific mortality rates and the incidence of opioid use, as well as deaths associated with other substances.
They found that among people who used opioids, the rate of death was about 1 in 4.
And among people reporting heroin, it was about 6 in 10.
These findings, the researchers said, point to a clear connection between the use of prescription opioids to increase the likelihood of becoming addicted to other drugs.
But they also point to the need for more research.
“As a doctor, you need to do your own research, and I hope that this work is just the beginning,” Smith told Live Sci.
“What I really hope is that we don’t have to go back to the days of the prescription pills and the doctor to say, ‘Oh, that’s the cause of all of these problems,'” she said, adding that we need more research that examines the links between prescription drugs and other drugs, including heroin.
In the past, there has been some controversy surrounding whether opioids cause addiction.
In 2015, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that opioids, including prescription painkillers, are not the main drivers of addiction.
But the Centers to Prevent Drug Overuse and Abuse in the United States, an organization that is tasked with monitoring the use and abuse of prescription drugs, says opioids are a contributing factor to the opioid addiction crisis.
Smith pointed out that there are other possible causes of addiction, including physical, emotional, and behavioral factors.
“But if you look at it as a whole, we are seeing an increase in heroin use,” she added.
That increase in opioids has coincided with the rise of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that has become a main ingredient in fentanyl-laced heroin.
Fentanyl is used to produce heroin.
In the past few years, it has become increasingly popular as an illicit opioid.
In 2017, more than 100 people were arrested for manufacturing and selling fentanyl, according to the FBI.
And in 2018, fentanyl was found in more than a dozen deaths.
This week, the U,